In reference to an article by Clark Spence in the April 1st edition of MiamiHerald.com on Miguel Cabrera, I wanted to take the deeper look. The good folks at Baseball-reference.com have a database that lists the following players as â€˜Most Similarâ€™* of Cabrera for each of the three years heâ€™s been in the league by age. Therefore, in his first season, at age 21, the player who had the most historically similar season to Miguel at age 21 was Hank Aaron in 1955.
At 21Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â At 22Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â At 23
Hank AaronÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Hank AaronÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Hank Aaron
Ruben SierraÂ Â Â Â Â Â Frank RobinsonÂ Â Orlando Cepeda
Sam CrawfordÂ Â Â Â Orlando CepedaÂ Â Frank Robinson
Dick KokosÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Tony CaligliaroÂ Â Â Â Â Joe Medwick
Mickey MantleÂ Â Â Â Â Mickey MantleÂ Â Â Â Â Mickey Mantle
Joe MedwickÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Joe MedwickÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Andruw Jones
Whitey LockmanÂ Hal TroskyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Ken Griffey, Jr.
Mike TiernanÂ Â Â Â Â Â Ken Griffey, Jr.Â Â Â Hal Trosky
Andruw JonesÂ Â Â Albert PujolsÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Vladimir Guerrero
Greg LuzinskiÂ Â Â Â Cesar CedenoÂ Â Â Â Â Al Kaline
There are obviously a number of interesting ways you can begin to compare players of different eras, but believing the numbers as interpreted the most interesting dissimilarity between these players and Cabrera is that it appears Cabrera will play at 3B for a number of seasons. Of the top 10 prospects listed in the Marlins system by Baseball America only Chris Coghlan plays 3b. He was ranked 9th in the system in an article by Mike Berardino. Last year Coghlan split time between the Gulf Coast League Marlins (Rookie) and Jamestown (A) â€“ he played 30 games and hit .297/.373/.372 with 0 HR. In three years at Univ. of Mississippi he played in 189 games, hit over .350 twice and hit 13 HR. Baseball America notes Coghlan playes â€œ3b/2bâ€ and he certainly does not seem to have the power stroke yet â€“ if ever â€“ to play the hot corner.
While Spence discusses the comparisons to other players hitting stats he does not mention any other playerâ€™s positions. Of the players above only Cepeda (1B), Trosky (1B), and Pujols (1B/3B) had a primary position that was not in the outfield. Of the 571 games Cabrera has appeared in he has played 348 in the outfield and 221 at 3B, he appeared as a designated hitter in 2 games as well. While defensive prowess is clearly not at the forefront of Spenceâ€™s article â€“ the only mention of position made in the whole article is noting that Cabrera was an â€˜18 year-old shortstopâ€™ â€“ it is interesting that there are no 3b to compare him with.
Other â€˜sluggingâ€™ 3b like Mike Schmidt and George Brett had their breakout seasons after the age of 23. In 1974 at 24 Schmidt hit .282/.395/.546 with 36 HR; in 1979 at 24 Brett hit .312/.373/.532 with 22 HR.
It is worth noting that both Brett and Schmidt had played in the majors for a number of seasons before their â€˜breakoutâ€™ years. If Cabrera is still in search of his â€˜breakoutâ€™ it may be a season for the ages.
3b is changing. As SS has evolved from Ozzie Smith to Miguel Tejada, the other infield positions are also seeing power jumps. While Cabrera is certainly putting up numbers that would seem â€˜hall worthyâ€™ â€“ a shift in the type of players at the position may change who and what is required for entrance.
*As is written on baseballreference.com:
Similarity scores are not my concept. Bill James introduced them nearly 15 years ago, and I lifted his methodology from his book The Politics of Glory (p. 86-106). To this there is a positional adjustment. Each position has a value, and you subtract the difference between the two players position. James just uses primary position, but I computed an average position for players who had more than one primary position.
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